Supernatural: Season 15 Episode 18 “Despair” Review

We’ve got quite the horserace going down. Jack’s not dead, The Empty is pissed, and Death’s plans have changed.

Tonight’s episode starts off where the last one left off: Jack’s about to explode. Billie sends him off in hopes of killing The Empty, but that fails. When he returns and she tries to reclaim him for a new plan, Dean takes a swipe at her with the scythe. He knicks her, which sends her running, but they can’t celebrate the victory for long.

Their friends are starting to disappear, at first it’s the apocalypse people, so Sam concludes that Billie must be going through with her original intentions to set everything right. He and Jack gather the non-disappeared at a central location and wards it up only to watch each and every person Thanos-out. Sam doesn’t know what Dean and Cass have learned – that Billie is dying because of that earlier graze and she’s not the one making their friends go bye-bye.

She does want Dean dead though, and even a dying Death is a cosmic level power. So, what’s more powerful then Death? Apparently an angel’s love…er, the cosmic entity that love can conjure. Castiel makes an impassioned speech to Dean in order to reveal his true happiness – his ability to love Sam, and Jack, and Dean – which summons The Empty to Earth. It swallows up both him and Death, thus saving Dean’s life.

But it’s a Pyrrhic victory. Sam and Jack leave the safe-house about to discover that more than just their friends have been dusted, while Dean sits in the bunker well and truly shell-shocked. It’s also one of the few silent Supernatural endings – save for the little bit of dialog between Sam and Jack.

This is a heavy episode, understandably. We’re in the weeds now, down to the final three and shit is bound to get heavy. A final season doesn’t usually conclude with every series regular surviving. As a rule someone’s gotta die. Sadly, the only impactful death is Cass. Yes, Bobby and Charlie have already died way more meaningful deaths before, but Sherriff Donna Hanscum’s (Briana Buckmaster) death should have had some heft to it. Unfortunately, she gets lumped in with the apocalypse world refugees, who I could give a shit about, and the impact of any of their deaths is destroyed by having EVERYONE disappear in the end.

Now, I understand that the scales are HUGE compared to most other shows. This is Chuck’s ending, and with Amara fused to his core he’s got a lot of juice to make it everything he wants it to be. What would Sam and Dean fight for if everyone is gone? That’s a decent question. But what answer is Chuck going for? Does he want them to give up? Is he hoping that pushing them to the brink will bring them back to him? How, as a father, do you deal with wayward sons?

Lastly, and not leastly, is Cass really dead? As I mentioned earlier that’s the cost of a final season. Granted, the most recent final seasons I’ve seen haven’t exactly adhered, but I feel like Supernatural might make good on the tradition. Not that they can’t find some way around death, it’s kind of the running gag of the show after all, but still I’d respect them a lot more if the Winchesters’ bill came due for once.

Also, also, because I can’t help myself, how could you kill Cass but keep stupid fucking Jack alive!? Jack!? Really!? In case it’s too subtle to pick up on, I hate Jack. I’ve hated him since his introduction and I will hate him until the closing credits on episode 20. It’s not Jack’s fault. He’s just…the symptom of a larger issue. A long running series often makes the mistake of not using the beautiful bounty that is their past mythology. Sometimes this is because actors die, or don’t want to come back, or are maybe doing something else and can’t come back, but most of the time I think it’s because they just forget (the show runners, not the actors). It’s the cardinal sin of a long running series and one of the many reasons I don’t believe any show should go on for more than 5 or 7 seasons.

Supernatural has had ten years to make good on some of the build-up of their past dangling plot lines, instead they kept building new mythology and twisting it to fit. Now, I understand that it’s not entirely their fault, the show has been on the bubble a number of times and some seasons following the fifth were set up in ways that allowed them to serve as a series finale just in case, but that’s part of the problem. The show had a final season. It had a series finale. It did not need additional seasons. And, I know that keeping a show running employs a lot of people, not just the main faces you see on screen, but all the behind the scenes workers. I get it.

Still, can we please all agree that a rabid fan-base and stable ratings should not be the only determinates for keeping a show on the air? Can we finally embrace shorter, more straightforward seasons (I’m looking at you, Netflix season lengths), and less seasons?

Ok, rant over. Let’s see how next week goes, yes?

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